Ukraine’s Kostyuk snubs Azarenka handshake
Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk refused to shake hands with Belarusian opponent Victoria Azarenka after the second round match at the US Open.
Kostyuk was the most outspoken critic of the lack of condemnation of Russian and Belarusian players in the face of the invasion of his country.
After Azarenka’s 6-2 6-3 win, 20-year-old Kostyuk didn’t catch up with her opponent, but instead stretched her racquet for a shallow hit.
“I just don’t think it’s the right thing to do in the circumstances I’m in right now,” Kostyuk explained later.
“I don’t know anyone who has publicly condemned the war and the actions of their government, so I don’t feel able to support it.
“We had a great game, don’t get me wrong. She is a great competitor, I respect her as an athlete, but that has nothing to do with her being human.
“People who haven’t seen the game will probably criticize me and say, ‘She’s such a bitch, thank God Vika beat her up, she talks too much and it was a fair score.’ But honestly, it was a super tight match.
Kostyuk chose Azarenka for his profile and role with the WTA Player Council and believes he should have put more effort into speaking with Ukrainian players personally.
Azarenka, however, insisted that he had offered help and support, saying, “I have offered many times through the WTA, because I believe that in a sense I was told it was not the right time.
“I’ve never had a close relationship with Marta. In March, when it all happened, I contacted all the (Ukrainian) players I know personally and with whom I still have a good relationship.
“I don’t think forcing myself to talk to someone who may not want to talk to me for different reasons is the right approach. But I offered myself.
“I feel like I got a very clear message from the start that I am here to try to help, which I have done a lot. Maybe it’s not something people see and that’s not why I do it.
“I do it for people in need, young people who need clothes, other people who need money or other people who need transportation or whatever.
“If Marta wants to talk to me – she wrote to me yesterday, I replied. I am open at any time to listen, to try to understand, to sympathize.
“I know he has been through a lot of difficult situations. It is not easy to deal with it. From my point of view, I wish she had someone to guide her a little better. “
Kostyuk wanted to meet Azarenka on Wednesday to explain that he wasn’t going to shake his hand, but the players weren’t in Flushing Meadows at the same time.
Speaking of the lack of a handshake, Azarenka said: “I was not surprised. I always shake hands with my opponents. I had the same situation with (Ukrainian Dayana) Yastremska in Washington, I go on.
“I can’t force anyone to shake my hand. It’s not the most important thing in the world right now. “